Swanswell calls for government action on alcohol dementia

15 May 2015

With Dementia Awareness week taking place from the 18th May until 24th May (organised by Alzheimer’s Society), Swanswell is calling on the new Conservative government to do more to tackle alcohol dementia by increasing investment for research into this hidden harm.

Research indicates that up to 10% of the 800,000 cases of dementia in the UK could actually be alcohol dementia and if diagnosed correctly many patients can make a full recovery. Although the 2020 Dementia Strategy, developed under the previous coalition administration, pledges increased funding and resources to tackle dementia, it fails to specifically recognise alcohol dementia, which costs the UK economy around £2 billion every year.

Caused by long term heavy drinking, the symptoms of alcohol dementia are similar to those of  dementia, however a lack of awareness around alcohol dementia specifically makes diagnosis difficult. This means sufferers do not get the support they need to address their alcohol misuse and the mental and physical effects of the condition.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We are pleased that the UK Government has a strategy to tackle dementia but this plan must address alcohol dementia at a strategic level. With 80,000 people in the UK affected by alcohol dementia we need the government to focus a larger proportion of its investment in to research, diagnosis and treatment for alcohol dementia.’

She added; ‘By raising awareness of this less well known type of dementia and investing in research, we can make alcohol dementia a thing of the past. With early diagnosis and effective treatment, the condition can be reversed or relieved, so that up to 50% of people who develop alcohol dementia can continue to live independently.However, tackling alcohol misuse is not something any single government, organisation or individual can do on their own – we all have a part to play by taking responsibility for our own alcohol use.’

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